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I saw the tents of Cushan overwhelmed by trouble;[a]
the tent curtains of the land of Midian were[b] shaking.[c]
Was[d] the Lord mad at the rivers?
Were you angry with the rivers?
Were you enraged at the sea?[e]
Such that[f] you would climb into your horse-drawn chariots,[g]
your victorious chariots?[h]
Your bow is ready for action;[i]
you commission your arrows.[j] Selah.
You cause flash floods on the earth’s surface.[k]

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  1. Habakkuk 3:7 tn Heb “under trouble I saw the tents of Cushan.”sn Cushan was located in southern Transjordan.
  2. Habakkuk 3:7 tn The prefixed verb form is understood as past habitual just as the imperfect functions in background clauses in narrative.
  3. Habakkuk 3:7 tn R. D. Patterson takes תַּחַת אֲוֶן (takhat ʾaven) in the first line as a place name, “Tahath-Aven.” (Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah [WEC], 237.) In this case one may translate the verse as a tricolon: “I look at Tahath-Aven. The tents of Cushan are shaking, the tent curtains of the land of Midian.”
  4. Habakkuk 3:8 tn The verb is a perfect form and the root is stative so it could be past or present. Most translations render it as past (e.g. NASB, NIV, ESV, KJV, NRSV), though Holman renders it present tense.
  5. Habakkuk 3:8 sn The following context suggests these questions should be answered, “Yes.” The rivers and the sea, symbolizing here the hostile nations (v. 12), are objects of the Lord’s anger (vv. 10, 15).
  6. Habakkuk 3:8 tn Heb “so that.” Here כִּי (ki) is resultative. See the note on the phrase “make it” in 2:18.
  7. Habakkuk 3:8 tn Heb “you mount your horses.” As the next line makes clear, the Lord is pictured here as a charioteer, not a cavalryman. Note NRSV here, “when you drove your horses, // your chariots to victory.”
  8. Habakkuk 3:8 tn Or “chariots of deliverance.”
  9. Habakkuk 3:9 tn Heb “[into] nakedness your bow is laid bare.”
  10. Habakkuk 3:9 tn Heb “sworn in are the arrow-shafts with a word.” The passive participle of שָׁבַע (shava’), “swear an oath,” also occurs in Ezek 21:23 ET (21:28 HT) referencing those who have sworn allegiance. Here the Lord’s arrows are personified and viewed as having received a commission which they have vowed to uphold. In Jer 47:6-7 the Lord’s sword is given such a charge. In the Ugaritic myths Baal’s weapons are formally assigned the task of killing the sea god Yam.
  11. Habakkuk 3:9 tn Heb “[with] rivers you split open the earth.” A literal rendering like “You split the earth with rivers” (so NIV, NRSV) suggests geological activity to the modern reader, but in the present context of a violent thunderstorm, the idea of streams swollen to torrents by downpours better fits the As the Lord comes in a thunderstorm the downpour causes streams to swell to river-like proportions and spread over the surface of the ground, causing flash floods.